SO YOU CHOSE TO BE CUNNING…
Although you assume it’s a trick you don’t recall having any swordsmanship experience, not that you can recall anything at all. Besides, there’s an infinitesimal chance the dragon is being honest. Didn’t you read once that dragons can’t tell lies? You reach up and remove the gold chain from around your neck. You take a few tentative steps forward and dangle it in front of the beast.
“A fine choice.” You feel its voice more than hear it. Then faster than you think possible, for the enormity of the beast, it lunges away from you. The wind of its wings blows you back and simultaneously its tail lashes back and delicately hooks the pendant. Pumping more air in its wake, you watch, hand over your eyes at the glare of its tight-layered scales off the sun.
The dragon’s feet leave the ground and something tumbles from its chest. You squint at it but are blown back again as it shoots several hundred feet into the air and launches forward like an iridescent shooting star.
That may have been a mistake. Though, you don’t feel like it's your place to argue seeing that you’re alive and well. You chose correctly…right? You wonder about the pendant and recall the words that had been etched into the back.
Bathi raska franier.
At least your short-term memory is intact. You walk forward to see what looks like a seashell gleaming in the light. You reach down to pick it up, a dragon scale. You turn it over, it’s strangely light for its size. You lick it and make a face. Tastes like sulfur. You tuck it under your arm, perhaps it will come in handy later. You look up to see smoke in the distance and hope it isn’t the dragon on a rampage.
You are about to leave the clearing when you remember the sword. You hike into the woods a bit to find the weapon and spot the sword sticking up from a tree stump. It gleams in a shaft of light that pierces the canopy of green above. You pull it from the stump and swing it a few times, finding the balance. It’s nice, this sword. You would have to add it to your collection. Your collection? Hmm…memories begin to trickle back into your shadowed mind. You know your way around a sword. That’s the best clue you’ve had all day.
By dusk you cross through the treeline and into a small town. Smoke puffs from the chimney of a modest tavern. It’s a welcome site, you don’t remember the last time you ate and an ale doesn’t sound too bad either. Perhaps you can trade the scale for some bread, who knows, some people are into eclectic stuff like that. There are a few villagers coming out of the tavern and it occurs to you that one of them may know the translation to the pendant, or at least the language from which it was born.
“‘Aye traveler.” A large man standing outside the tavern motions to you as you approach. “Marcie’s closing up shop for the night.” He’s a trader by the looks of him and has the teeth of someone who has seen a hard life. He cracks his neck from side to side. “Are ye hungry?” The man stares down at you, more curious than malicious.
You nod and pull out the scale, ready to barter. You haven’t eaten all day, and maybe even before that. The man’s eyes flick to the scale and back at you with enough recognition for you to see you’ve made an error. You begin to tuck it back under your arm but he reaches out and snatches it from your hands.
“‘Aye boys!” He calls to his companions who have gathered their horses and caravan around to the side of the tavern. “Look what we got here.” He flashes the scale in the waning light as he saunters over to them. You stand there, forgotten. You know you should let it be and walk away but something in you rages against the injustice of this and you lift the sword in both hands.
You stalk over to the group and demand he return the scale. He cocks a confident eyebrow at you then spreads his arms wide, turning in a slow circle to his friends.
“This here traveler begs a fight wit me.” Then he laughs and his party laughs with him, raucous and dangerous as they surround you. You swing the blade in a circle side to side and crouch slightly at the knees. The feel of the hilt in your hands is so familiar you can taste it. You smile.
“Naw, ‘tain’t need to be bloody.” He shrugs his massive shoulders but you don’t allow yourself to relax, not for a second. “I like ye fire. Come wit us for the night. We have some food. Some drink.” The man tosses the scale back to you and you release your sword and catch the scale with one hand, the tip of your sword drops to the grass below. You raise it back again quickly, your elbow quivering slightly at the effort. You glance over your shoulder, his men still surround you.
“What do ye say?”
Choose Your Own Adventure Part 2